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Tommy Fleetwood has thrown his weight behind Hulton Park’s bid to host the Ryder Cup.
The venue, near Bolton, was originally pencilled in to push for hosting duties in 2031. But with that honour looking more and more likely to go to Spain, the company behind the project will likely turn its attention to 2035 – which also happens to be the 50th edition of the biennial clash between Europe and the United States.
“The delay that we’ve had means that we’re now looking at ‘35,” developer Peel L&P’s planning director Richard Knight said. “I think ‘31 would be a bit tight for us to build a new venue and clearly, we don’t want rush a project such as this.”
And Fleetwood, who grew up around 20 miles away in Southport, is fully on board with the plans.
“I’ve studied the proposals for Hulton closely and seen the site for myself,” he said in a statement released on his website. “It’s an amazing landscape and the prospect of a purpose-built stadium course here would be fantastic for everyone concerned – for golf, for the tournament, and for the game in England.
“But perhaps more importantly, I love what this proposal offers to my corner of the country. I can see that it would inspire more people in the north-west to take up the game and for those who don’t play golf, it will also bringing jobs, investment and tourism to the region and open up a huge new green space for the community.”
It’s also noted that Fleetwood will be 44 when the 2035 Ryder Cup rolls around. The Englishman, who added three points Europe’s cause in Rome to take his Ryder Cup tally to 7-3-2, already has experience, having captained the Great Britain and Ireland team at the Hero Cup in January, and Luke Donald said during the Ryder Cup that his compatriot “absolutely could be a future captain”.
He added: “I was impressed with the way he handled the situation at the Hero Cup. Tommy has a great way about him. He’s very relaxed, he has a smile on his face, he loves being in a team room, he loves the atmosphere. I think his game elevates having that support group around him.”
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the yet-to-be-built Hulton Park. As well as a stadium golf course and world-class academy, Peel’s plans for the Lancashire estate include 1,000 new homes and community facilities, with a promise of a £1.6 billion uplift to the economy.
But opponents to the project claimed the town would be left with a “lame duck golf course” which would be ripped up after the Ryder Cup to make way for more profitable housing.
Bolton Council rejected Peel’s original application in February last year by a vote of 15-1, saying it would “devastate a large area of land” and describing it as “window dressing for a vanity project”. However, a public enquiry in October said that should not have happened and, as recently as last week, the council said it was “fully behind the bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2035”.
Deputy leader Akhtar Zaman told The Bolton News: “The argument has been going since 2018, and while we fully understand the concerns of local residents, we think that now is the time to back this proposal.
“First of all there are the benefits of the tournament itself, with 75,000 visitors per day and all the benefits that will bring to the hospitality industry.
“The Ryder Cup will really put Bolton on the world stage, it will bring over 1,000 jobs, and there are the 1,000 homes which will really help with our housing shortage.”
Speaking on BBC Radio ahead of the match in Rome, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “There is clearly a case for it, but the residents have got to be in favour as well. If Bolton can get behind it, it would be great for Greater Manchester.”
The Ryder Cup was last played in England in 2002, and that year’s host venue, The Belfry, is also expected to bid, as are London Golf Club and Luton Hoo.
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